PUTRAJAYA: Johor is expected to not depend on Singapore for treated water by 2022, said Malaysia's Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Xavier Jayakumar on Monday (Aug 19).
“We have to make sure that Johor has sufficient treated water and does not need to get it from Singapore - which is why we have to provide new water treatment plants in Johor," Dr Xavier told reporters after meeting Johor Chief Minister Sahruddin Jamal in Putrajaya on Monday.
“The capacity must reach 260 million litres a day. We already have an understanding that by the year 2022, we will have this capacity.”
It was Dr Sahruddin’s first visit to the ministry after being appointed chief minister in April.
Asked if the effort will impact the Water Agreement talks between Malaysia and Singapore, Dr Xavier said there will be no effect and the agreement still stands.
The 1962 Water Agreement, which expires in 2061, entitles Singapore to draw up to 250 million gallons a day (mgd) of water from the Johor River.
Singapore pays 3 sen per thousand gallons of raw water and sells treated water back to Johor at 50 sen per thousand gallons, a fraction of the cost of treating the water.
Johor is meanwhile entitled to a daily supply of treated water of up to 2 per cent or 5 mgd of the water supplied to Singapore. In practice, however, Singapore has been supplying 16 mgd of treated water to Johor at its request.
Johor has been hit by a spat of environmental problems affecting its rivers and water treatment facilities, causing thousands of residents to fall ill or have their water supply disrupted.
Water levels at major dams have fallen below the critical mark due to dry weather while some rivers, including the Johor River, have been polluted by chemicals.
Dr Xavier said his ministry has agreed with the Johor state government on steps to tackle river pollution through more efficient management of sewage waste.
“Both parties also agreed on forest management, especially involving the conservation of forest reserve areas as a national heritage,” he said.
Dr Xavier said the ministry and the Johor state government also agreed to set up a trust account for operations to save wild elephants.